JOURNAL ARTICLE

Effectiveness and reaction networks of H2O2 vapor with NH3 gas for decontamination of the toxic warfare nerve agent, VX on a solid surface

Sam Gon Ryu, Hae Wan Lee
Journal of Environmental Science and Health. Part A, Toxic/hazardous Substances & Environmental Engineering 2015, 50 (14): 1417-27
26327407
The nerve agent, O-ethyl S-[2-(diisopropylamino)ethyl] methylphosphonothioate (VX) must be promptly eliminated following its release into the environment because it is extremely toxic, can cause death within a few minutes after exposure, acts through direct skin contact as well as inhalation, and persists in the environment for several weeks after release. A mixture of hydrogen peroxide vapor and ammonia gas was examined as a decontaminant for the removal of VX on solid surfaces at ambient temperature, and the reaction products were analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometry (NMR). All the VX on glass wool filter disks was found to be eliminated after 2 h of exposure to the decontaminant mixtures, and the primary decomposition product was determined to be non-toxic ethyl methylphosphonic acid (EMPA); no toxic S-[2-(diisopropylamino)ethyl] methylphosphonothioic acid (EA-2192), which is usually produced in traditional basic hydrolysis systems, was found to be formed. However, other by-products, such as toxic O-ethyl S-vinyl methylphosphonothioate and (2-diisopropylaminoethyl) vinyl disulfide, were detected up to 150 min of exposure to the decontaminant mixture; these by-products disappeared after 3 h. The two detected vinyl byproducts were identified first in this study with the decontamination system of liquid VX on solid surfaces using a mixture of hydrogen peroxide vapor and ammonia gas. The detailed decontamination reaction networks of VX on solid surfaces produced by the mixture of hydrogen peroxide vapor and ammonia gas were suggested based on the reaction products. These findings suggest that the mixture of hydrogen peroxide vapor and ammonia gas investigated in this study is an efficient decontaminant mixture for the removal of VX on solid surfaces at ambient temperature despite the formation of a toxic by-product in the reaction process.

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